Game 101 Preview: Can Tigers even up series with Blue Jays?

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers took a trip across the Canadian border on Thursday night and came away with a loss at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-3, after squandering a golden opportunity in the late innings. Tyler Alexander was saddled with the loss despite allowing two earned runs (and an unearned one) in his fifth start of the season after returning from the injured list. Willi Castro and Jonathan Schoop provided the fireworks on offense, both launching a home run in the losing effort.

The Motor City Kitties came into the four-game weekend series having taken two of three from the San Diego Padres prior and will look to even things up with the Jays on Friday night. The road team is set to send out another AAA arm for his first cup of coffee in 2022 while the home team has a stud taking the bump opposite. Here is what to expect from both squads tonight.

Detroit Tigers (40-60) at Toronto Blue Jays (55-44)

Time/Place: 7:07 p.m., Rogers Centre
SB Nation site: Blue Jay Banter
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Bryan Garcia (1-2, 2.90 ERA @ AAA) vs. RHP Alek Manoah (11-4, 2.24 ERA)

Game 101 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Garcia (AAA) 40.1 17.6 12.5 4.87
Manoah 120.2 23.0 5.2 3.33 2.5

Bryan Garcia takes the mound for the first time this season in the big leagues after getting stretched out in the minors to prepare for his starting assignment. The former sixth-round pick in the 2016 MLB draft out of Miami has spent the entire summer so far in Toledo where he put up fairly tidy numbers over the span of 28 relief appearances and three starts. Though his elevated 1.44 WHIP is nothing to write home about, it is consistent with his low-strikeout and high-walk rates.

Last season, the 27-year-old tossed 39 13 big league innings to the tune of a 7.55 ERA, 6.91 FIP and 1.86 WHIP while allowing 10 home runs, which amounts to a 58 ERA+. Yikes. However, during the COVID-shortened season in 2020, the right-hander tallied a 1.66 ERA, 3.61 FIP and 1.29 WHIP in 21 23 innings, while not allowing a single home run good enough for a 276 ERA+. Chances are, the real Garcia is somewhere in between those two vastly separated data points.

Alek Manoah has had a heck of a season for the Jays so far as he continues the brilliance he displayed last season when the right-hander finished eighth in the Rookie of the Year vote. More than a continuation of what was seen during his debut campaign, the former first-round pick in the 2019 MLB draft out of West Virginia has taken a step forward in 2022, marking improvements in almost all of his traditional statistical categories en route to his first All-Star bid. Among his sparkling numbers are his impressively microscopic WHIP which sits at 0.97 coming into the game as well as his 0.8 home runs per nine innings.

The 24-year-old gets by on a four-pitch arsenal headlined by a four-seam fastball (94 mph), followed by his slider (81.4 mph), sinker (93.2 mph) and changeup (86.7 mph), which he uses 37.2%, 28%, 23.4% and 11.4% of the time, per Baseball Savant. Manoah is fairly dominant across the board save for one glaring Achilles’ heel in his maximum exit velocity, for which he is in the bottom 7% of the league — a season after sitting in the bottom 3%. Otherwise, he is looking pretty good in comparison to his peers.

Baseball Savant

Key Matchup: Garcia’s cup of coffee

Exactly what the Tigers will get out of their spot starter on Friday night is anyone’s guess but given his more recent history, it is probably not going to be an easy outing for Garcia. However, it will be even less easy for the offense to generate anything against one of the better pitchers in the league this year, so it is of paramount importance that AJ Hinch gets some quality innings out of him today. Stranger things have happened this season, so hopefully, Detroit can get weird and even up the series.

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